The Profound Schlock of Adrian Lyne’s ‘Jacob’s Ladder’

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In a New York Times article published October 28, 1990, screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin explained that his 10-year-old script for Jacob’s Ladder had sparked the interest of only “‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ types calling [him] and saying, ‘I can make this on the cheap.’” This wasn’t the approach that the spiritually minded writer of the romantic dramas like Ghost had in mind: “I thought I was better off having one of the 10 best unproduced screenplays and leaving it on the shelf.”

Fortunately for Rubin, a more expensive and artistic filmmaker eventually signed up for the task of filming the writer’s horrifying vision of the liminal state between life and death: British director Adrian Lyne, hot off the successes of the hit erotic thrillers 9 ½ Weeks and Fatal Attraction, gave up adapting Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities to climb up on Jacob’s Ladder.